Disaster Recovery Software Decision-Making Criteria

By Tom Fedro

Tom Fedro discusses decision making criteria for disaster recoverySales of disaster recovery software have shown dramatic growth over the last several years as just about every company has come to rely on systems and data management for continued operation. Although the first mention of this kind of disaster recovery occurred in the 1970s, it wasn’t for decades that the importance was fully realized. Back then, technology really wasn’t intertwined with a company’s operations the way it is now. Now, most companies would find it strange to think of technology and business as independent, the way we find it strange when we watch a TV show from the 1980s and don’t see cell phones.

Although technology is still advancing at breakneck speed, the data protection industry is essentially mature, and a number of companies vie for market share. When a company decides to determine which solution is correct, there are some important and critical considerations that need to go into the decision-making process. First and foremost, what is the need?

Too often, this step is skipped. Companies tend to examine what’s available and make choices based on the four or five alternatives they come across. That’s the wrong way to do business. The smartest people in the world make mistakes like this one, but they shouldn’t! There are a couple of cardinal rules about shopping at the grocery store that come to mind. First, never shop hungry. You end up overbuying and typically unhealthily. In the same manner, don’t wait for a crisis to buy your software. You’ll end up buying more than you need in most cases and the pain of the urgency will get the better of you.

The second rule? Shop with a list. Without it, you end up buying food you don’t need and you forget food you do need. In the world of technology, your list is called a needs assessment. Sit down with your tech department and your operations and figure out what you need. Here are some conversation starters.

    1. How much data can we afford to lose in a given period of time? One week? One day? One hour? This answer will tell you how regular your backups will need to be, and thus how important the ease of backup and the interruption the procedures cause will become to your decision making.
    1. How reliant on the systems is each department? It’s possible your inside sales department could handle a few hours of downtime. On the other hand, it might cripple your accounting department. When you’ve got all the information, you not only have criteria to determine purchasing based on restore times but also a blueprint for which departments should receive first attention from your IT department in the event of catastrophic failure.
    1. Which particular elements of the system or the data are most critical? If your employees have a dramatic need for email but not other documents, you’ll want software that can provide tools for partial and immediate restoration of that critical information (commonly called granular restore) while the rest of the system comes on line.

Don’t fall into the “Ready, Fire, Aim!” trap. Make your technology decisions like you make other business decisions. Identify the correct solution first. Then go out and get it.


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